Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm For Life!

I hope you are, too.

Here's a link to an article at Mission Territory, a blog I just discovered today. The article is about embryonic stem cell research, or rather, the options we are now forced to face with the advent of this research. Great article. I think I'll print it out (with MT's permission), and leave it in the lunch room at work soemtiime this week.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

My introduction to the whole Numa Numa phenomenon of a few years ago...

...was via accidentally discovering this video on For some unfathomable reason, I love this video! I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that Harel Ska'at is really cute, Harel Moyal is really sexy, and Ran Danker is really hot!* And also, because of my Fundamental Baptist past, I have a fascination for Israeli culture. There's a great deal of fun to be had in web-searching the English lyrics to this piece. At least, I had fun doing it.

*To make it easier to identify these people in the video, Harel Moyal is at count 2:04 to 2:01 (playback count goes backward), Ran Danker's foot is stomped at 1:25 to 1:20, and Harel Ska'at is seen at 1:11 to 1:09.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I have just barely enough time to post this...

...before I go to work.

Via Intentinal Disciples, here is part of an Easter Liturgy in Malawi. I'd love to be in the middle of all that exuberance! It's good to see that not all Catholic congregations go by the rule "I can sing more quietly than you can."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sporadic postings.

Sorry I haven't been posting often lately. My work schedule has increased. My time off is usually devoted to sleeping. I'll try to continue both my series ("The Story of My Faith" and "Missions, Sex, and All Things New") this week. God be with everyone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Missions, Sex, and All Things New, Part One

A while back, I mentioned to Jeron in an e-mail that I have an interest in missions. My favorite Christian singer is Twila Paris because of the missions focus in her songs. As an Evangelical Christian in my early twenties, I really, really wanted to be a missionary. When I joined the Catholic Church, that desire kind of went "underground", in part, I think, because I had so much to learn about the Faith, my worldview was going through a massive upheaval, and my sexual issues became more intense. My latent desire to be a missionary has recently come back in full force, as you can probably tell from my blog. I want to discuss all of this, but in multiple posts. I'll start with the sexual issue.

After joining the Church, even with having access to the sacraments, I became less chaste than when I was an Evangelical. Sex became a major preoccupation, as well as the fact of my "being" a homosexual. As a Catholic, I was no longer sure of what it meant to be "gay" and a Christian. I had more sexual encounters after joining the Church than I did before. Well, that's not quite true: the rate of sexual encounters increased, not the number. I worried about this because I know that any type of sexual activity outside of the marriage bed is mortally sinful. My susceptibility to this sin preyed on my mind, and during quiet moments, sex would always come to my mind. With sex always on my mind, masturbation became a daily habit. Only in the last few weeks have I noticed less of a preoccupation with sex, and I'm working to end the daily habit.

As an Evangelical, I was convinced I had to change my sexual orientation. Back in 2001, I got involved with Exodus International, which seems to, well, let's put this charitably, mistrust celibate homosexuals (more information on this here at Disputed Mutability—a great blog, by the way). I contacted a local Exodus affiliate and went through a six month program called Living Waters. This was followed up by an "aftercare" group (we actually called it AfterC.A.R.E.; I forget what the acronym stands for). This group met weekly for accountability, prayer, and encouragement. I made great friends in AfterC.A.R.E., but was worried because I could never detect the slightest changes in my sexual orientation; I thought I'd never be able to get my life right with God, which meant, remember, that I would come to have a predominantly heterosexual attraction. Before I go any further, I want to make it a matter of record that I firmly believe that some homosexually inclined people can change their sexual orientation. Some of my friends were helped immensely by Living Waters and AfterC.A.R.E. I do disagree with those who claim all homosexuals can change their orientation. Practical experience dictates that not every one can.

During this time period, I was in a state of what I call theological flux. In late '99 I left the charismatic church I'd been attending since December of '96. I didn't go to church for most of 2000, but in early 2001 began attending an Evangelical Southern Baptist church. I wasn't really Baptist at this point, but I needed some stable place to rest. I'd left the charismatic church because, while that specific, local church taught only a mild heresy, the pastors publicly supported people who taught grave heresies. Many of these "graver heretics" are popular in charismatic and Pentecostal circles, so I wanted nothing to do with these types of churches. To make a long story short, on Thursday, May 1, 2003 at 2:43pm, after years of trying to learn the truth about God and the Bible, I was convinced the Catholic Church had it. I joined RCIA that September and was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil in 2004. Coming from an Evangelical background into the Catholic Church can be a little "disorienting". There's a major worldview shift involved. Learning a whole new way of looking at the Bible and the Church can be confusing itself without also having to deal with the Church's view of one's homosexual inclination. Since I am convinced that the Catholic Church has the Truth about God and the Bible, I fully accept Her teaching on sexuality. Okay, one must be chaste, but one doesn't have to become straight. What does being "not straight" look like in every day life? My hetero friends will sometimes comment on a women's beauty when we walk by a beautiful woman at the mall. Can I make similar remarks about a good-looking guy? If my behavior is on the flamboyant side, must I become more "straight-acting"? There are many such questions to be addressed as a Catholic. Thanks be to God for COURAGE and its conferences! You can learn a lot from the talks, but also just from being around others who have dealt with the same issues you do. I'm still assimilating some of the lessons I learned from this year's conference (my first) and am looking forward to next year's.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

30 Days of Prayer for Muslims

Muslims celebrate a "Holy Month" every year called Ramadan. During these 30 days, they will not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, kiss, or have sexual relations from sun up to sun down. Instead, they will concentrate more on prayer and almsgiving. Some of our Evangelical brothers and sisters have issued a guide to pray for Muslims during this month when they are more open to God. You can order prayer booklets or get the free e-mail guide. Ramadan starts tomorrow (September 13-October 12), so the booklets are probably not an option for anyone reading this post today, but you can still sign up for the e-mail guide. I encourage every Christian to do so. Let us pray that God will reveal the truth about Himself and His Son to the Muslims of this world. Let us pray for Muslims all over the world to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!

Here are two links. Follow the first to get the prayer guide. The second links to the stories of Muslim Background Believers.

30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

Testimonies of Muslims who became Christians

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yet this I call to mind...

...and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Shout Out to the Aussies!

Because SiteMeter says they're the third largest national group that visits my blog! (I'd post something for the Canadians because they're the second largest group, but I cannot find any good YouTube videos of O, Canada. Sorry, SheepCat!).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Story of My Faith, Childhood Years: Comical Interlude

For your entertainment, I interrupt the seriousness of the Story of my Faith to offer these hilarious tidbits of Fundie teachings. They're in no specific order. These are things I was actually taught during my school and church years.

(Obligatory disclaimer: Not all Fundamentalist Baptists or Fundamentalists-in-general believe or behave in this way. Some of these teachings were never specifically formulated this offensively, but these are the gist of what I was taught.)

At the first Fundie elementary school I attended (first grade through half of sixth grade):

We may not wear clothes that are black and red. Black and red are the devil's colors. We know this is true because if you walk into any bar anywhere in the world, it will be painted black and red. It is especially offensive to wear a black and red tie because then you are wearing the devil's colors on an article of clothing that is pointing down to Hell!

At the second Fundie school I attended (half of sixth grade through tenth grade) and the church I attended from third grade to a little after high school graduation:

God is into racial purity. God does not want the races mixing in marriage. We should win peoples of all colors to faith in Jesus Christ, but once we do, they should segregate into their own churches. (On a very happy note: the gentleman who pastors this church today preaches against this attitude as sinful!)

Atheists are morons. Agnostics are morons. Muslims are morons. Hindus are morons. Any individual who is not smart enough to recognize that he must accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior is stupid. We should hold such people in contempt.

The King James Version of the Bible is the only acceptable English translation of the Scriptures. The rest are corrupted perversions. If you were to buy a modern translation to use by yourself in your own personal study, you would be by yourself because God would not be there with you!

It is a sin for a Christian to have friends or hang out with people who are not Christians. It is too easy for these sinners to pull you into their sinful lifestyle, listening to worldly music, seeing worldly movies, using worldly language. In short, friendship with non-Christians is apostasy. So is friendship with "Christians" not of "like faith" (Lutherans are not Christians of like faith, neither are Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and the list goes on and on).

Jesus did not turn the water into wine at Cana. It was grape juice. Drinking is sinful. God would never create anything people would use for sinful purposes. (I must have missed that part in the Bible where God did not give us food [gluttony], sleep [laziness], hands [violence], etc. The illogic of many of these positions is so laughable, I'm surprised Fundamentalism has lasted as long as it has.)

I'll update as I think of more. Also, if you're from a Fundie background as well, feel free to contribute to the list.